Legal Separation Lawyer

Know the Benefits and Limitations of a Legal Separation vs Divorce
Photo of a fighting couple, sitting on opposite sides of the bed not looking at each other
Are you considering splitting with your spouse but do not want or are not ready for a divorce? A legal separation allows a couple to remain legally married while allowing them to act independently regarding responsibilities like finances and living arrangements.

There are a variety a reasons a couple may choose a legal separation over a divorce including religious beliefs, children, tax and insurance benefits. In some cases, couples will legally separate while going through a difficult time in their relationship but are still attempting to work through their problems.

While not seen as permanent as divorce, the legal separation process is very similar in court. In a legal separation, the family court system must approve the division of any marital assets and how any child custody, visitation, and support will be resolved as well as spousal support.

Our family law team has helped clients just like you understand the legal separation process. If you would like to learn more about how we can provide you with expert legal advice and representation, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation today.

How to File for Legal Separation in California

The process for filing for a legal separation in California is nearly identical to the divorce process. While not as final as divorce, the process can be one of the most stressful, confusing, and emotionally draining experiences in your life.

Hiring a lawyer who is experienced in legal separation early in the process can help minimize some of the stressors that can arise during the proceedings. Our attorneys will work tirelessly and vigorously for you to help limit the stress, anxiety, and financial difficulties which can commonly be found with separation cases.

While separation cases can vary dependent on where they are filed and the specific issues and details, there are four common steps to get started:

  • The first step in filing for legal separation in California is filling out and filing Form FL-100, (also known as Petition – Marriage/Domestic Partnership) and Form FL-110, (Family Law Summons) with the local Family Court Clerk’s Office.
  • The forms must then be served to your spouse either by personal service or by mail with a Notice and Acknowledgment of Receipt.
  • After the papers are served a Form FL-115 (Proof of Service of Summons) must be filed with the County Clerk’s Office.
  • The fourth step is to fill out and serve the financial disclosure forms. The next steps can vary depending on if you and your spouse have already agreed to the terms of the separation, or if there are issues being contested including child custody, child support, division of assets, as well as other factors.

Proven Legal Separation Process

From the moment you hire the Lewellen | Strebe Family Law Firm our attorneys immediately jump into action to protect your rights and well-being. While every client’s case is unique and we craft our approach to each situation, we start each case with our proven steps which include:
Mediation Point 1

Step One: Free Initial Consultation

We understand that going through a separation can be one of the most personal and emotional situations you will ever experience. Our free initial one-hour consultation allows you to get to know our law firm, attorneys, and the legal process. We take the time to listen to your concerns and answer your questions.

Mediation Point 2

Step Two: Establish Goals and Method

From the very beginning, you meet with Attorneys Kimberly Lewellen or Michael Strebe, who will work directly with you every step of the way. They will work with you to understand your unique situation and circumstances and establish your goals and what legal tools to use to best achieve them.

Mediation Point 3

Step Three: Prepare A Legal Strategy

Once we understand all the issues involved with your case, we can establish what type of legal strategies are available for you and begin to gather all the documents the California Family Courts require. These can include either the initial divorce filing or response if you were served.

Mediation Point 4

Step Four: We Aggressively Represent You in Court

While not every separation case requires going to court, many do. Should your case go to court, you can have peace of mind that you are being represented by an attorney with years of experience negotiating, arguing for, and attaining results that are in the best interest of our clients and their families.

Additional Family Law Services We Provide

Separation cases can vary due to many factors including children, property division, high-wealth cases, just to name a few. Our family law attorneys and professionals provide our clients with an exceptional depth of experience handling cases involving a wide range of legal issues, including:

Frequently Asked Questions About Legal Separation

Why would you get a legal separation instead of a divorce?

There are a few key reasons a couple would choose a legal separation over a divorce including:

  • Want to separate some of their legal responsibilities while working on the relationship
  • Religious beliefs
  • Tax benefits
  • Health insurance benefits
  • Children

How Much Does a Legal Separation Cost?

The cost of a legal separation in California varies dependent on the complexity of your situation and the county where you live. No matter the situation, the California family court will require the person filing the initial petition to pay a $435 filing fee. The spouse who files a response to the petition will also have to pay a $435 filing fee. Additional country fees can vary and there may be additional fees based on the unique issues of your separation. In addition to the court fees, you may have attorney fees, form preparation fees, mediator fees, and other various expenses.

Can I Date Other People While Legally Separated?

The quick answer is yes you can date someone while you are legally separated. However, depending on your situation and agreements with your ex-spouse you may not want to. For example, if your ex-spouse is under the impression you are currently working on your relationship while separated and agreed to a separation rather than an immediate divorce to benefit you, dating another person could be seen as acting in bad faith.

Do I Need A Lawyer to File for Legal Separation?

In California family court you can represent yourself during the legal separation process. However, as the process is like a divorce, there are many legal forms that need to be filled out and filed. Having an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and provide you with legal advice can be beneficial. If you would like to know if your situation would be best served with legal representation, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation.